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Little Soldiers

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“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex…It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” ~~Albert Einstein

Everything you do has an impact in the marketplace.  Some consequences are significant while many are not.  Some are planned, others are not.  Finally, some are positive and, sadly, some are not.

Let’s consider one of the small things that can have a large influence.  Pull out your business card right now and take a look at it.  What is that you say?  You don’t have one with you?  Without a business card ready to go you need to quickly implement a less effective Plan B—such as scribbling information on a napkin.  If your intention is to cement the message that you are always unprepared, this is a great way to do it.

A well designed business card is an integral part of your marketing plan and will often provide your best return dollar-for-dollar.  That is partly because it accompanies your most priceless marketing tool—which is you.

Fortunately you are always prepared and have your business cards ready—a few in your pocket, some in your glove box, and more in your car trunk—so you will never run out.  Let’s examine one of these little soldiers a little closer.

A few weeks ago we talked about the importance of First Impressions.  What impression does your business card convey?  How is the quality?  How is the condition?  How memorable is it?  Failures in these areas often lead to the business card storage facility where it is destined to be added to a bulging box of forgotten cards.  This is an opportunity lost.

Realize, too, that a business card, while important, is limited in what it can accomplish.  It is not a brochure, catalog, or website.  Here are some considerations for your business card.

Style.  Consider a style appropriate to you and your business.  Cartoons may be very appropriate in some settings although probably not for a funeral director.  Formal cards are usually less valuable for day-to-day services like auto repair.  Find the balance for your business and support it in every element you present.

Pictures.  Including a picture (or caricature) is a good way to reinforce the personal introduction.  Hire a professional photographer—assuming you are a professional in your business.  Choose pictures wisely and keep them current—replacing a picture after losing (or gaining) a lot of weight, for instance.  Having a picture that reflects you from ten years ago hurts your image more than it helps.  In some professions every competitor has a picture.  In other cases no one does.  Use this in considering whether to include one or not.

Tactile cards.  These include die-cutting, special materials, unusual shapes, etc. and are almost always more costly as well as more memorable.  As you imagine, these emphasize how creative you are.

Multi-purpose cards.  Some cards include a call to action such as coupons or appointment reminders.  Maps can enhance direction finding.  Menu ideas, recipes, usage tips, and so on can also add value.  The emerging technology of QR codes can open a larger world of dynamic information, as well.

Outside-the-box.  Talk to your promotional items specialist for a number of clever ideas.  Your card can be made of chocolate, include flashlights and other useful gadgets.  There is a wide variety of other ideas that can make your card memorable and likely to be kept.

Dr. Ivan Misner wrote an excellent book about the subject, called Its in the Cards with more than 200 full color examples.

Once you have the card you want consider how to deliver it.  If you attend many networking events, you are bound to meet the card shill.  These people are intent on insuring that every person in the room has their business card and strafe through the crowd with only that intention.  The best way to deliver your card is when someone asks for it.  Commit yourself to that concept and you will find a better return on those cards that go out.  Naturally, the simple shortcut is to ask for theirs first.  As we discovered a few weeks ago human beings regularly exhibit reciprocity and they will likely ask for yours, in return.  This is a good way to start developing your skills.  In time, though, you want to progress to adding value in your conversation so that they will ask for your card first…often wanting more than one so they can make sure a friend or strategic alliance has it, as well.

Your action steps this week include the following:

A: Proofread your card.  Look at each element carefully and closely.  If it adds value—keep it.  If not, consider replacing or removing it.  Examine it for readability and typos.

B: Network with the intention of having other people request your card.  Practice the skill of adding value to the people you meet.

© 2011 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

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Written by bniguy

August 14, 2011 at 2:14 am

Posted in business, HowTo, networking

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. Excellent points, Randy. Readability, memorability, and functionality. All key. I carry little business-card-sized post-it notes(tm) to add comments on those glossy cards, too, but prefer to be able to write directly on them. Finally, I cannot agree more with how important it is to look the incoming card over. Thanks for adding these valuable comments.

    bniguy

    August 14, 2011 at 9:04 pm

  2. There is some great information here – especially the part about talking to a promotional items specialist!

    I have a few tips to add:

    – Make sure your card is easily readable by people with less than perfect eyesight. If you have a dark background, make sure your text is white and a little larger so it stands out. Make the text at least 10pt. Smaller than that makes it hard to read.

    – Use both the front and back. The front is good for contact information and the back for a list of your specialities.

    – Leave space on the back for someone to take notes. I have a section at the bottom of my cards marked “notes”. I use this to give other people information such as a contact they would like to meet or a networking meetng that would be useful to them.

    – If you are going to coat your cards (the shiny stuff), only coat the front. It is very difficult to write on the coated cards and a lot of people at networking groups make note of where they met someone or something special about them.

    – Make your cards stand out (like Steve does with his “hand” cutout), but make them a standard size. Cards that are extra small, slip out from a stack of cards that people pick up at a networking even. Sure people will notice your card, but it’s just as likely to drop on the floor to never be seen again. Larger sized cards may not fit into the card books that a lot of people keep. You can round the corners of the cards, do a custom cutout, and give them a catchy design to be noticed.

    – When someone doesn’t ask for my card, I’ll say, “May I give you one of my cards?” Of course, they’ll say “yes”. This is better than forcing your card on someone.

    – When someone hands you their card, hold it in your hand and look it over. Make a positive comment about it, if you can. This also helps you remember the person’s name.

    Randy Bernstein
    Marketing Specialist
    Etch ‘n Stitch Promotional Products – Making You Memorable

    Randy Bernstein

    August 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm


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